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posted Friday, October 22, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 43
Ex-Gay No Way author Dr. Jallen Rix speaks at MCC Seattle
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Ex-Gay No Way author Dr. Jallen Rix speaks at MCC Seattle

by Rev. Ray Neal, Emerald City MCC Seattle - Special to the SGN

With the September suicides of young Gay teens being so heavy on our hearts, the need for a different voice to be raised to counteract the hateful and wrong interpretation of the Bible being used against LGBT persons is even more important today than ever before. Dr. Jallen Rix, author of Ex Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abuse, will be speaking Sunday morning, October 24, at 11 a.m. at Emerald City Metropolitan Community Church Seattle (1415 NE 43rd St.). Emerald City MCC Seattle currently meets in the Chapel of University Temple United Methodist Church. Additionally, Dr. Rix will be speaking at Seattle First Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, October 20, at 7 p.m.

As a young Southern Baptist, Jallen Rix joined an ex-Gay ministry when he began to deal with his same-sex attractions. Though that did not make him heterosexual, it did destroy his sense of personal stability and self-esteem. Dr. Rix's book tells his own journey through the ex-Gay world and what he did in its aftermath to reorient himself to a healthy and positive integration of his sexuality and spirituality. Jallen tells how he found new hope and healing for his wounded Gay soul.

Metropolitan Community Churches teach that one can find harmony with your spirituality and your sexuality. Being same-sex loving is no different than being opposite-sex loving; either kind of person can use his or her sexuality in a wrong or right manner. The Bible contains very few, if any, scripture passages that address our modern understanding of love and relationships. The few passages that might be considered to do so have been so badly misinterpreted and taken out of context that they provide little if any true insight. Most modern biblical scholars believe that the so-called 'clobber passages' used against Queer persons by religious fundamentalists have little if anything to do with an understanding of loving, committed relationships. For example the Genesis 18 story about Sodom and Gomorrah is overwhelmingly a story about the failure of people to offer hospitality to strangers, and has little to do with sexuality. Condemnation of same-sex love is simply not contained in the story.

Rev. Ray Neal, pastor of Emerald City MCC Seattle asked Dr. Rix, 'Do you believe you have accomplished the reconciliation of your faith and your sexuality?'

Dr. Rix replied, 'I would be hard-pressed to ever say that I have accomplished complete integration of my spirituality and sexuality, but I do know that I have spent over two decades focusing a considerable amount of my time doing that on a weekly - if not daily - basis. This integration process is what gave me impetus to write the whole recovery aspect of my book Ex-Gay No Way, because I saw a lot of people in the same situation I was (being completely shattered and fragmented by ex-Gay and religious abuse), but these people had no idea what to do about it. When I began to see the whole picture of sexuality and spirituality, I found that they were both wonderful gifts of humanity that can be enjoyed fully and ecstatically within one, happy, healthy person. It has been a wonderful and rewarding journey.'

Rev. Neal continued the interview by asking, 'How can progressive Christian churches get out the message about how damaging ex-Gay therapy is to LGBT persons?'

Dr. Rix smiled and said, 'Well ... besides encouraging people to buy my book, there are many different things that can be done. Something to consider is that many people operate from the belief that a minister or a pastor knows more than they actually do. This has a historical basis when the local church was really the only place in a small town where a person could get advice on life's problems. That is not the case anymore. We now have doctors, therapists, trained counselors, sexuality educators, the internet, etc. & It is very important if someone comes to you or clergy that there is awareness and encouragement to go to the correct source for help and education. As the saying goes, you don't go to your plumber to fix a broken leg. The great thing is that this approach frees the church up to be only what it is meant to be: the focal point of God's unconditional love. When it comes to ex-Gay experiences, the APA has published a wealth of research showing that reparative therapy does not work, and how it even causes emotional and psychological damage. Also, there are now places, like BeyondExGay.com where people can go and read stories of survivors and find support for their own experience and recovery.'

When asked about the extremely loud voice that fundamentalist churches and preachers are using to attack the Queer community and how progressive Christians and churches might counteract that harsh voice, Dr. Rix gave this advice: 'Be as vocal as possible about your stance about the all-inclusive love of God. Progressive churches have their work cut out for them since the majority of churches are exclusive in their acceptance of others and they hold the majority of the money and the media's attention.'

He continued, 'Some may feel the need to be reactionary - if Fred Phelps pickets a Gay pride parade, then other churches should be there to give a different point of view. Sometimes I think this is necessary, but I also feel this is still allowing the 'squeaky wheel' to dictate our behavior. Ultimately, I always believe that if the church is doing what it's supposed to be doing - creating a place where everyone can feel the love of God - we wouldn't be getting into these 'holy wars' in the first place. The best counter to these groups is to make it clear as much as possible that diversity is an asset, all are welcome, and it's fine if you don't want to have anything to do with the church at all.'

Stories about the experiences of others in ex-Gay ministry are included in Dr. Rix's book. Anyone on a journey to love and accept yourself and wanting to bring harmony with your spirituality and your sexuality will find a soulmate in Dr. Rix's story and analysis of the ex-Gay movement.

Emerald City MCC Seattle is the oldest congregation in the Pacific Northwest founded for and by LGBT persons, having been established in Seattle in 1972. More than 220 Metropolitan Community Churches are now found in 40 countries across the globe and are known in Eastern Europe as the Human Rights Church. You can find out more about Emerald City MCC Seattle and its sister churches at www.mccseattle.org or www.jesus.com. To contact Rev. Neal, call 206-325-2421 or e-mail revray@comcast.net.

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